Have you ever engaged an SEO company that has spun you promises and guarantees that they possess that special power that’s going to get your business ranking on the first page of Google? Maybe even in that elusive top spot?
Perhaps these SEO ranking guarantees caused your mind to wander. Through rosy glasses, you began to imagine all those leads that were coming your way, and all of those dollars you’d soon be swimming in.
I’m here to bring you back to earth with a bang. Sorry.
Any digital marketing agency that absolutely guarantees your small business is going to rank on page 1 is at best, bending the truth a little. At worst, they intend to conduct black hat techniques that will damage your business for the long-term.
IGNORE THAT SEO GUARANTEE. LET ME EXPLAIN…
When small business owners don’t have the scope of knowledge of digital marketing that they would like, it makes sense to pass on their SEO to experts that do.
Finding the perfect partner can be overwhelming. When companies make SEO ranking guarantees (especially those that offer a MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE), it’s easy to be swayed towards this offer.
The problem is, these sales tactics are covering the truth. They prey on gullible business owners and lure them into an unrealistic sense of security, through sales copy like:
GUARANTEED PAGE 1 RANKINGS IN THE FIRST MONTH
WE GUARANTEE WE’LL GET YOU RANKING IN THE TOP 5 FOR 90% OF YOUR KEYWORDS
GUARANTEED TOP SPOT ON GOOGLE!
If you happen to connect with an SEO company that promises anything like the above, I suggest that you run.
It’s bullshit – and here’s why.
SEO is a Long-term Game
While you should be able to rank on the first page for your brand name (so long as it isn’t something overly common or popular), ranking for your target keywords is more difficult.
For example, if you run a scrap metal business called “Iron Man Scrap Metal”, ranking highly for “iron man” might be more difficult than it would be if you called your business something more distinct.
The only way to guarantee first-page rankings in the short-term is to deploy black hat techniques that effectively trick search engines into pushing up a page ranking. Organic, search-engine approved tactics take time and an ongoing effort, especially when trying to rank for competitive keywords.
It’s possible to achieve a high-ranking on Google, but only with persistence and a deep knowledge of the industry. If an SEO company is being honest and playing by the books, they shouldn’t offer short-term SEO ranking guarantees.
Case in point…
In 2011, US eCommerce store JCPenney shot to fame by achieving top Google results placements for almost all of its keywords, and most of the products it sells. Within a month, the brand disappeared from search engines.
It had managed to trick Google’s algorithm into placing the company higher and as a result, was severely penalized by Google. Google removed the company from its index and it took months of overhauling SEO to return at all to search results.
Black hat techniques aren’t worth it.
Google itself Tells you to “Beware”
To assist businesses that are looking for an SEO agency, Google writes:
“No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings.”
The warning is right there in black and white. Don’t hand your money over to companies that make promises they can’t keep.
Either they’re using it as a sales mechanism, they plan to use dodgy techniques, or they’ll just aim to rank you for those keywords that are easy to rank. Either way, just avoid them to avoid being let down or harming your brand.
Rankings aren’t the Best Measure of SEO Performance
This might go against everything you thought to be true about SEO.
Rankings mean nothing if you’re only being placed for irrelevant keywords. They can bring you traffic, but not high-quality traffic, meaning you won’t actually see any results. What’s key to SEO is to find the balance between search volume and competition for your target keywords.
That way, you’ll attract the right traffic and you’ll see an increase in leads and revenue.
Not only that, but rankings naturally move and shift over time. That’s because of changes to Google’s algorithms, your competitor’s performance and numerous other factors. It’s impossible to be certain that you’ll bag a top spot and stay there.
It’s a Question of Ethics
Do you really want to work with a company that bends the truth, or outright lies about their capabilities? When their SEO guarantee sounds great on the surface but doesn’t explain that the keywords you’ll rank for are of a low quality and won’t attract the right traffic, you won’t see any benefits at all.
You’ll become another false sales statistic for the digital marketing agency:
JOIN 98% OF OUR CLIENTS THAT ACHIEVED A PAGE 1 RANKING FOR 90% OF THEIR KEYWORDS!
You’ve heard it all before – and it’s nonsense. So, don’t be drawn into empty promises and guarantees that are impossible to make.
HOW CAN YOU FIND THE RIGHT SEO COMPANY?
Be alert to dodgy SEO companies.
The major red flags to look out for include agencies that:
- Seem too good to be true. Their prices are super low or they’re offering a money-back guarantee if they don’t get your business ranking for X number of keywords. They’ll only manage to worm out of their guarantee if/when they can’t fulfil it. Instead, shop around for an agency that understands that white hat SEO techniques take time and effort, and are willing to put that in for you.
- Are keeping their methodology a secret. There’s no hidden formula to effective SEO. If an agency is acting cagey about unveiling their tactics, it’s probably because they’re using methods aimed to “trick” Google. By the way – Google will always find out when a business is behaving badly.
- Seem to use questionable methods. Even if an agency is upfront with how they’ll fulfil their offer of SEO ranking guarantees, use critical thinking and research. If it seems dodgy – they’re putting your keywords in a white font on your homepage, for example – it probably is. Black hat techniques are never okay, and the long-term damage always overpowers the short-term gains.
What is Something that an SEO Agency CAN Guarantee?
Signing a contract with a partner you’ve never worked with before can be nerve-wracking. I get that. You want to know that there are some guarantees in place that you can trust in. Bullshit-free guarantees.
A trustworthy SEO agency should be able to genuinely guarantee the following:
- They’ll get you results – not rankings. It’s impossible to predict specific rankings in a rigid time frame. However, while your digital agency shouldn’t offer SEO ranking guarantees, they should be able to guarantee that upon execution of their advice and ongoing strategy, your relevant search traffic will rise, and you will see results.
- You can trust them. Trust that your partner will never use black hat techniques that will harm the ranking and reputation of your business. You’re putting your livelihood on the line, so make sure you feel comfortable to work with a particular business.
- Transparency and client service. Overall, an agency should be honest and transparent throughout your entire relationship. Find out about reporting tools and communication methods and be sure that you’ll be able to get in touch with your point-of-contact whenever you might need to.
There’s no question that social proof should be an agency’s best selling tool. If a digital marketing company has Impress!ve™ case studies and testimonials, and their clients are genuinely happy to refer them to others, you can feel more confident when you’re signing that contract.